I'm working as a HR in a company. My employees keep their desk in very improper manner. I want to draft a mail asking them to keep their workplace clean.

So what should I write so that it should look professional?

  • 5
    Is it your job to be concerned how the workplace looks like? If not, talk to someone who's job it is and let them take action (or not). – skymningen May 23 '17 at 8:39
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    You're HR. They're not your employees. – Strawberry May 23 '17 at 9:27
  • @strawberry Ultimately everyone is an employee of the shareholders, and any labor contract specifies who the employing party and his agents are, and the responsibility for any non-technical interaction with the human capital of a company often falls on the HR department as an agent of the emoployer, and for M/SMBs this is tipically the case. The maintenance of a healthy work environment is a shared responsibility, and if the company holds an ISO:9XXX certification this will be a required and auditable process per standard specs. So, maybe not HRs employees, still his responsibility. – hlecuanda May 23 '17 at 9:52
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    My desk is generally a mess. Every few months I get around to cleaning it off. If required, I would be happy to keep it all neat and tidy - I just would not be doing the other 6 million things I'm supposed to. The important things are getting done. Is a neat desk an important thing? Every one has a different working style - some are neat, some are not. A neat desk indicates nothing about the quality of work being performed. – Jon Custer May 23 '17 at 13:16
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    Why do you want to do that? Also, I have never heard of an HR professional who doesn't know to write a "professional" email without consulting random strangers on the internet. Your time might be better spent honing your own skills rather than meddling with what others do with their desks. – Masked Man May 23 '17 at 17:07

Why do you want people to keep their desks tidy? State your reasons in your email. For example:

  1. If people eat at their desk, this can be a hygiene problem.
  2. If clients come to visit the office often, this an affect the impression of the company.

Do not force people by saying "this is a company policy". If people fundamentally agree with you, cooperation will be much easier.

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  • 3
    +1 - one must be careful of trying to force the issue because they themselves just don't like the look of the desks - after all "improper" might be a matter of opinion. It is far better to have rules/regulations with actual business reasons. – colmde May 23 '17 at 8:28
  • There are also areas where conditions force a certain lack of neatness. A coder might have specs splayed all over his desk, support might have tools out. Don't put policy over reason. – Old_Lamplighter May 23 '17 at 13:32

Simply put, don't require clean desks. Your best employees are often the ones who don't have time for that nonsense. You will reward the mediocre if you do this and drive away the creative innovators. (No creative person I have ever known would stay for any longer than it took to get a new job if this policy was implemented. Creative people need mess to create.) It is a bad policy for a company to require clean desks at all times. A horribly bad policy.

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Does the company have an "employees' handbook" that translates the legalese of contracts policies and legal minutiae into practical, understandable procedures and expectations.?

If not, it may be a good opportunity to edit and publish one, with the support of management, or at least support from "he who signs the checks" and achieve both awareness of the issue as well and relatively quick solution to your problem, allowing you to tidy up and tie any lose ends your department may have had in the past

In this handbook, along with explaining in everyday language and even illustrations, (Not all employees may have the same literacy as an R&D department) you should lay out and explain in simple, but no uncertain terms what is expected from the workforce besides timely quality work and production goals, but also what the workforce can expect from the company besides a safe workplace and fair wages paid in a timely fashion.

Usually, you can start with a little background on your main products or services and why they matter, a short history of the company and its current challenges and its corporate culture. ISO:9xxx certified companies should include their vision and mission statements, it's all about teambuilding.

Then to the meaty parts:, explain what the policies are on

  • List item
  • punctuality,
  • timeclock usage,
  • security procedures that should be followed to gain access, and secured areas and access policy to them, if any,
  • safe workplace policies
    • sexual hsarrssment,
    • peer harrssment,
    • vertical chain of authority abuse,
    • dress code, if any,
    • required safety equipment and
    • potential inherent health hazards and how to avoid them)
  • healthy workplace policies although there may be some overlap here,
    • dress code,
    • anguage moderation,
    • workstation or desk maintenance and tidyness
    • use of personal devices in the workplace, from cell phones to music players digital cameras and USB sticks,
    • office supplies conservation ,
    • first aid and emergency equipment location,
    • internal emergency contacts​ (who to call in case of....)
    • Local first responder services directory
    • External extensions directory -An organization chart showing transparently who's responsible for what in the company.

Surely there are other topics that fit here, but I believe these to be essential in a modern workplace.

Then for the reciprocal what can the employee expect from the company and how to get it include clear statements describing what the job perks are, where, when and how to get them or gain access to them but also what would be considered abusive usage.

Explain what the rules are and provide a filled form example for non-economic benefits and compensation and case examples for vacation accrual, personal time off, sick and maternity leave, internal career advancement opportunities and internal job postings (enabling horizontal career moves, for example), company events and a calendar and current schedule, available company sponsorship for sports, community, activism and continuous education scholarships or sponsorships for pursuing valuable certifications, or degrees, internal training courses for desirable skills or additional languages as well as internal sports tournaments, recreational events, teambuilding retreats, periodic or annual outings or anything that makes your human capital feel appreciated, unique, loyal proud of just plain lucky to be with the company.

Also include how to get off the ship amicably, for whatever reason, whom to give notice to and how much advance notice you'd ask of them.

you could even throw in a map of the neighborhood with recommended places to eat or that the company may have arrangements with, nearby daycare centers, etc.

There's a lot more to be said about a good employee handbook, for example if a large portion of your workforce are on the manufacturing floor, or if a portion of the workforce could appreciate a version of the handbook in their native language (nevermind countries official languages, the company is here to make a profit and not a political statement; and that means closing communications gaps and building bridges with your team, not antagonizing valuable and probably uniquely skilled employees)

Having a handbook that is up to date with current labor law and company policy, reduces onboarding friction, provides a a written rulebook for everyone to refer and point to, saves everyone's time since it will cover and educate your employees on the most basic and frequent services that HR will provide for them , as well as bring transparency, certainty and fairness to what HR may be required to ask of them or supervise/inspect in order to maintain a productive workplace.

HR can then focus it's efforts on the unavoidable exceptional cases providing a better service and experience for everyone overall.

Implementing a manual or handbook of this sort requires planning, management approval and visible commitment and support for it's success. Try and do it like a quick overnight memo and it will utterly fail. Do it right and you may even have half the work towards a HR internal services ISO:9xxx certification on the HR internal process, that even if certification is outside the scope of your company, you can tout as ISO compliant. That will always raise an eyebrow in interest as to how it is done.

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